Moral identity as a lens for interpreting honesty of indirect leaders

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Abstract

This study extends the moral identity literature to show how followers' moral identity acts as a perceptual filter of leaders' honesty. Participants witnessed political leaders either lying or telling the truth in an experiment. Followers were more satisfied with honest leaders, and this effect was moderated by followers' moral identity: the more central morality was to followers' self-identity, the more negatively they rated leaders who lied. In contrast, moral identity was unrelated to satisfaction with the leaders who told the truth. The finding contributes to the moral identity literature by showing how moral identity acts as a perceptual filter that heightens awareness of the situation. It has implications for the leader integrity and more general leadership literature by indicating that follower characteristics are important antecedents to perceptions. Contrary to expectations, no similar moderating impact of value congruence with the leader was found.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-65
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Change Management
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • honesty
  • integrity
  • Leadership
  • lying
  • moral identity
  • trust
  • value congruence

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